Zimbabwean X Factor star told to leave UK
Eighteen year old Zimbabwean, Gamu Nhengu lives in the Scottish town of Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire. She was 10 years old when her mother fled Zimbabwe with two younger siblings and sought refuge in the UK.
A few days ago, Gamu was on the verge of winning a coveted place for the live finals of X Factor in the UK, a show watched by millions of viewers.
Then two awful things happened.
First, she was controversially eliminated from the ITV show.
And then a Home Office (UK Immigration Department) ordered Gamu and her family to leave the UK voluntarily or risk being deported back to Zimbabwe.
Gamu's mother, Nokuthula Ngazana qualified as a nurse in the UK, so she and her three children, including Gamu, were dependants on her work visa.
One of the conditions of the work visa was that 38 year old Nokuthula could not receive benefits and tax credits for her children – but it emerged earlier that Nokuthula broke this rule, raking in at least £16,000.
The visa run out in August – and the Home Office will not approve an application for renewal.
It is suspected that the decision to drop Gamu from X Factor was influenced by her shaky immigration status – and had nothing to do with her talent or ability to delight the audience and ultimately win the contest.
There is overwhelming support across the UK for the 18 year old who has now been shown the exit door – out of X Factor and out of UK.
The UK Border Agency says Gamu's mother has no right of appeal –and Gamu herself cannot make a separate application to extend her stay.
“The applications made by Ms Ngazana and her family were considered in line with the published immigration rules,” said a spokeswoman of the Agency.
The statement further said “Ms Ngazana's application was refused as it did not meet all of the conditions for approval. Her family, who had applied as her dependants, were therefore also refused.”
The X Factor Television show in the UK can draw audience upwards of 11 million – and most of these audience were disappointed that Gamu was dropped.
The audience think Gamu is talented and sings well. As a result, she has attracted a lot of sympathy – and support.
Nearly 300,000 people have joined a Facebook campaign calling for Gamu to be brought back.
The Sun newspaper in the UK reports that over 88 per cent of 22,000 people who voted in an online poll said Gamu should be given another chance on X Factor.
The development has attracted the attention of the mainstream media in the UK, including the BBC.
How is Gamu herself feeling, with all these attention?
To use a cliché, she is “cool, calm and collected,” about it.
“I am overwhelmed by the support. I am doing just fine,” she says.
Gamu also remembered to say thanks.
“Thank you so much for all the support. The whole experience has been amazing.”
She is fairly level-headed, this teenager, for the kind of storm she is facing.
Maybe it is proof that she has that “extra-factor” to keep going, when all is (seemingly) lost.